A federal grand jury has indicted a United States citizen accused of instructing a Honduran she claimed was her son to pretend to be non-verbal and autistic during an alleged attempt to cross him illegally through the Hidalgo port of entry.
U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers arrested Vanessa Jeanette Morin, who was born in 1974, and charged her with transporting and conspiring to bring a 29-year-old Honduran citizen into the country illegally.
She was indicted Wednesday.
CBP officers encountered Morin on May 15 during a primary inspection. At the time, she provided a passport for herself and a passport bearing the name Omar Lee Villarreal Morin, who she claimed was her son, and told authorities she was traveling to Pharr, according to the criminal complaint.
The man’s actual name is Cristhian Josue Matute-Perdomo.
“When asked basic questions, the defendant interrupted and claimed that her son was autistic and proceeded to answer for him. Matute at this time, displayed some odd behavior and did not answer any questions,” the complaint states.
The CBP officer conducting the primary inspection noticed discrepancies between the passport photo and Matute’s facial characteristics and both were referred to secondary for further inspection.
“The defendant stated that she had traveled to Mexico for the purpose of a checkup with a doctor due to an upcoming surgery,” the complaint states. “When asked as to the passenger, she insisted that Matute, was her son, a United States Citizen and could not answer for himself as he was autistic.”
However, CBP says she changed her story during the interview, telling the officer that Matute was her nephew, had been born in Houston and was a United States citizen.
“She stated that she had presented the passport because she had forgotten his true documents,” the complaint states.
Morin then invoked her right to an attorney, according to CBP.
Matute also spoke to CBP and said he was born in San Pedro Sula, Honduras.
“He went on to say that he had met the defendant one time prior to their attempted entry. He claimed that the defendant was his father’s girlfriend and that she had provided the U.S. Passport they presented in an attempt to facilitate his entry. Matute admitted that she had instructed him not to speak and to act as if he was disabled once they arrived at the Port of Entry,” the complaint states.
CBP determined Matute had no legal status to enter the United States.
He remains in custody as a material witness in Morin’s criminal case.
Morin received a $40,000 bond with a $4,000 deposit to be released, as well as numerous conditions if she were to be able to post bond.
The record doesn’t indicate whether she posted the bond and she is scheduled for arraignment on June 11.